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Bugs feast on palay in Pangasinan farms.

The rice black bugs, which attacked fields and communities during the full moon on Nov. 3, damaged or destroyed 753 hectares of farms in six Pangasinan towns and city, a provincial agriculture officer said.

But the infestation was 'not critical,' said Dalisay Moya, acting provincial agriculturist, because the damaged farms in the towns of Villasis, Manaoag, Asingan, Tayug, San Manuel and Rosales, and Urdaneta City, represented only 2.53 percent of Pangasinan's total 180,000 ha of agricultural land.

The bugs suck nutrients from palay stems, so even if the palay bear grains, these are empty as the plants will be unable to sustain them with nutrients, Moya said.

She said the Department of Agriculture distributed a type of fungus that served as a biological control agent against the bugs. According to Moya, the bugs can also be controlled by light traps, which can be put in the middle of rice fields.

Agriculture officials also stopped farmers from using rice harvesters which could serve as carriers of black bugs.

The bugs cling to the machines used in infested farms, so harvester operators have been told to ground the machines or to stay away from farms that have not been attacked by bugs, said Nestor Batalla, assistant provincial agriculturist.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 21, 2017
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